I am pumped for these NBA Playoffs. The best regular season I can remember hopefully leads directly into the postseason. However, I must admit that a little bit of the momentum has been lost because of how stupid long the regular season is. Shorten the season to 50 games and the NBA skyrockets in popularity (I hesitate to say NFL territory, but if the lockout continued...who knows?).
I'm gonna hit you all with a few lists to get you ready for a weekend chalk full of 8 games. I'm gonna appetize you all by ranking the 16 teams in order of my personal rooting interests, entree you by ranking the teams' chances of winning the Championship, impress you with my top 10 most intriguing players souffle, and finally rank the playoff series in pumptitude for your midnight delight (predictions included - hanky panky not included). Bon appetit.
Ranking my favorite NBA Playoff teams:
1. Dallas Mavericks (some competition from the Knicks but not enough)
2. New York Knicks (may pass the Mavs if they go on any kind of run and I get sentimental)
3. Oklahoma City Thunder
4. Memphis Grizzlies
5. Portland Trailblazers
6. Indiana Pacers
7. Chicago Bulls
8. Boston Celtics
9. Philadelphia 76ers
10. Denver Nuggets
11. Atlanta Hawks
12. New Orleans Hornets
13. Orlando Magic (don't really dislike but they are somewhat favored)
14. Miami Heat (huge dropoff from 14 to 15)
15. Los Angeles Lakers (hate them more than #16 but
16. San Antonio Spurs (so boring I can't watch them)
Ranking the NBA Playoff teams' title chances:
1. Los Angeles Lakers - They're the favorites, but I feel like their run is over at the same time. I feel like if they do win it this year, it'll be their last.
2. Miami Heat - I've gone back and forth about loving and hating the Heat. I've finally settled on rooting against them, but they certainly have made things interesting. No matter how they do in these playoffs, it's bound to be dramatic and spectacular. My biggest question is if they've gone too hard in the regular season trying to prove everybody wrong and don't have much left. My biggest fear is that they've been saving something for everybody in the playoffs and blow everybody to smithereens.
3. Boston Celtics - Everybody is making a big deal that the C's haven't played that well the last month of the season (9-10). People might've forgot they finished last season 27-27. Then they made the NBA Finals. This is what the Celtics do.
4. OKansaslahoma City Thunder - Became a legitimate threat with the acquisition of The Kobe Killah Kendrick (or as I like to call him, KKK). Love their chances this year, but am worried about too many teams hopping on their bandwagon and them blowing their first round matchup with the Denver Dankness.
5. Chicago Bulls - Worried about their title chances because NBA teams usually have to pay their dues before they win an NBA title. Remind me of the 2011 Kansas Jayhawks with Boozer and Noah bangin' down low like the Morrissi, and D-Rose banging chicks at midcourt of the United Center like Tyshawn. Will their supporting cast (of Deng, Bogans, Korver, Gibson, Thomas) let them down like KU's?
6. San Antonio Spurs - The final Finals candidate. Yes, this is a 6 team tournament. I just don't see it out of the Spurs this year (as you'll find out later), or maybe it's just wishful thinking. I'm not sure what it is about them, but I'd rather watch the WNBA Draft than a Spurs game. Seriously.
7. Orlando Magic - Became semi-contenders by trading away Vince Carter. Gonna need Turd Glue to dominate in order to make a run. I'm bored with them.
8. Dallas Mavericks - Never good when the bottom teams are jockeying for position to play you in the first round. I hope the Mavs have a run in them, but I don't see it. Once again, they have no second option to His Dirkness. In fact, since Steve Nash departed, the Mavs have only had two All-Stars opposite Dirk - Josh Howard (who was so bad that I swore the Mavs off until they cut him - also he was an injury replacement) and Jason Kidd (who was an honorary selection in 2010) - That's it, that's the list.
9. Portland Trailblazers - Sucks that they're squaring off with the Dirks in the first round. In Sports Guy's playoff podcast he said "Dirk might be the best player in the series, while the Blazers might have the next best 4-5 guys." Eeks, egads!
10. New York Knicks - Very excited to watch meaningful basketball in the Gahden. I was hoping and pleading for Knicks/Heat in the first round so we could hopefully see another big time brawl. Seriously, when was the last time a big fight took place in the playoffs?
11. Memphis Grizzlies - The Grizz beat the Spurs twice in the month of March, and lost to them earlier in the season in overtime. AND, apparently, they tanked at the end of the season in order to draw the Spurs in round one. I'm intrigued.
12. Denver Nuggets - Astounding 10 players averaging double figures for them this season (more amazingly, 8 of those players are still on the team).
13. Atlanta Hawks - Could be fired up after getting absolutely embarrassed by the Magic (their opponent again this year) last season. Either way, nobody in Atlanta will care.
14. Philadelphia 76ers - Literally have no players of note.
15. Indiana Pacers - Like a College all-stars team with Brandon Rush (BRong), Tyler Hansbrough (secretly become a fan), Darren Collison, Roy Hibbert, Josh McRoberts (he made the NBA! And he plays!), and TJ Ford baby! Haven't watched them all year, but am secretly very excited to.
16. New Orleans Hornets - For whatever reason Chris Paul bores me.
Top 10 Most Intriguing Players:
**Kobe Bryant will not be included out of respect for the Gay and Lesbian Alliance**
1. Dirk Nowitzki, Dallas Mavericks - Here's a player who isn't interested in his own image, legend, or perception of him (he's soft) filling people's minds. He's not afraid to be himself, despite getting crushed for not carrying himself like the western media thinks he should. Despite that, he's more interested in self-depracating himself than self-promotion. He leaves it all on the floor each and every game but accepts losing if that is his fate. And if you said to me that's not a winner's attitude, then I wouldn't argue with you. But my love for him is complicated and goes deeper than just winning. I think his biggest problem might be that he goes all out every time he steps on the floor, and therefore doesn't have that extra gear come playoff time. I believe he's of the mindset that everything is bigger than wins and losses. I might not like him as much if he played for "my team," but casually watching him he's really developed into one of my favorite athletes of all time.
2. Kevin Durant, oKC Thunder - Declared his greatness after seeing him live at Allen Fieldhouse 4 years ago (best athlete I've ever seen live - yes I saw LeBron this summer). I've believed he's had a certain special nature about him. I've seen him score in the NBA, but now I'd like to see him dominate. I can't perfectly describe what I mean, but if you watch him in these playoffs you might see it. He is special.
3. LeBron James, Miami Heat - I'm glad Bron bolted for Miami because he could've easily become very stale and boring in Cleveland. Now he's polarizing and has become very interesting. Now if only he'd embrace his role as the villain (I'm talking Hollywood Hogan style) he could gain my undying support.
4. Kendrick Perkins, oKC Thunder - Stands as the reason the Celtics can't win it all and the reason the Thunder can. Could be the best defensive big man in the league. The Kobe Killah has now walked off the Staples Center floor (without injury) victorious three times in a row. He don't like Kobe.
5. Joakim Noah, Chicago Bulls - I love any player that ever records more rebounds than points in a game (not to mention players that shoot free throws like my mom). Noah has to be commended if the Bulls do win it all. Dude is just a winner.
6. Carmelo Anthony, New York Knicks - Just excited to see what he can do. I have never really rooted for him before, but he is delightful to watch. He's a big body and likes to play physical. Would love to watch him v. LeBron in a 7 game series.
7. Paul Pierce, Boston Celtics - Actually led the NBA in +/- per minute (the most important stat in all of basketball). Always a joy to watch the most unheralded clutch player in the game clash with the LeBroner.
8. Dwight Howard, Orlando Magic - I'm excited for the day when he wins an NBA title. Why? Because Howard seems really immature and I don't think he'd handle the success very well, which I'd love to see.
9. Gerald Wallace, Portland T-Blazers - Seems like a uniquely special player that we've never really seen before because he hasn't made the playoffs before (Stat Boy tells me he made the playoffs with the Bobcats last year, but there's little evidence to support that).
10. Brandon Rush/Mario Chalmers/Darrell Arthur, Kansas Jayhawks - Good to see both bottom seeded teams with KU players in the regular rotation. It's cool see these guys in the playoffs, and gives me a reason to support the lesser teams in games that might otherwise be meaningless to me.
Ranking the Playoff series (Predictions included):
1. Boston Celtics vs. New York Knicks - Celtics in 7
2. Dallas Mavericks vs. Portland Trailblazers - Mavs in 7
3. oKC Thunder vs. Denver Nuggs - Thunder in 6
4. San Antonio Spurs vs. Memphis Grizzlies - Grizzlies in 6 (oh no he didn't!)
5. Miami Heat vs. Philadelphia 76ers - Heat in 5
6. Chicago Bulls vs. Indiana Pacers - Bulls in 5
7. Los Angeles Lakers vs. New Orleans Hornets - Lakers in 4
8. Orlando Magic vs. Atlanta Hawks - Magic in 6
NBA Finals Prediction:
Miami Heat over Oklahoma City Thunder